Today, March 30th would have been my mother’s 79th birthday, had she not passed away on January 9th, 2005 so I thought maybe I’d post a few pix and say Happy Birthday, mom! This first one is from her trip to India in the early 1960s. One of my regrets regarding my parents is he lack of conversations I had with them about their lives. At least with dad I have his book to read and re-read (will be doing so later on this trip, actually) but with mom, all I have are fragments of her memoirs, which she was working on before she died. I would have loved to talk to her more about India and the Movement, but I can’t. So I make due with her writings and stories from her friends and pictures.
In 1960 mom was working for the National Guardian and it was for this newspaper that she would cover the Civil Rights movement. While packing up the apartment, I came across her official press ID card, signed by the notable and much revered journalist, James Aronson, for whom the James Aronson Award for Social Justice is named.
In 1957 mom traveled to “Red” China, in violation of a US State Department ban. (Not the first or last time she’d do something “against the rules,’ BTW!) She was already at a world youth conference in Moscow, so what the hell, right? She went with 40 others, some of whom would become lifelong family friends, including my godmother Faye Goodman, the reverend Warren McKenna and his wife Elizabeth and the late Sally Belfrage, one of the finest people I ever knew. Below is a picture of mom (2nd left), Warren and Faye. Not sure who the young Chinese woman is. I suspect a translator.
Below is the New York Times article from August 15th, 1957 about the trip to China:
After my preamble trip to Hagerstown I had just enough energy to check my email when I arrived. It had been a rough day, considering I’d moved out of the family home I’d had for 30+ years, so when I pulled into the hotel just past 11, I didn’t even care that I’d missed the cut-off time for beer at the hotel mini mart by only 5 minutes. I didn’t even pitch a fit when the guy at the front desk told me that they were out of foam pillows. My allergies made me pay for that one.
At any rate, I was up at 8am and ready to go…. and after the mother of all time sucks, a visit to a local mall for some needed road supplies, I was on the road to Louisville and 534 miles awaited me. Were I driving with another person, 500+ miles wouldn’t be a big deal but alone? It’s drowsy time. Seriously, after about 375 miles or so I find myself chanting things like “badda badda bang ging gong bung ding badda ding big gong dang…” like some half-baked Bhangra singer with tertiary stage syphilis.
Continue reading GSRT: Hagerstown to Louisville or “Such a Dirty Bad Girl!”
Drive alone, for hundreds of miles and you might find yourself talking to yourself. Or maybe even your video camera:
If you needed proof that the Mason-Dixon Line really does start at the Maryland border:
As some of you know, I have embarked on what might accurately be called an adventure. 2 days ago on Friday, March 6th, I left what had been been my family home for more than 30 years for the last time. With both my parents having passed away (and having sold the apartment) it was time for me to move on. That said, I’m not entirely sure where I am moving on to. To that end, I have embarked on a 6 week, 16 state road trip around the Southern United States. To wit:
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Why? Well, I’m going to South by Southwest and thought it would be fun to drive there. Then I realized that the Sarasota Film Festival starts shortly after SXSW ends, so I figured I’d drive there. Then I realized that since I’d be in the neighborhood, maybe I should visit New Orleans and some places in Alabama and Georgia that figured prominently in the Civil Rights Movement. Pretty much all of my family was involved in that monumental struggle and I feel like I should pay my respects, especially in light of our new president.
After that, it’s on to Sarasota, other parts of Florida, South and North Carolina, Virginia…and well, we’ll see! Along the way I’ll be shooting video, eating and drinking some local specialties and just generally commenting on my trip. Should be fun!
Day one was uneventful…besides leaving my home. After I closed the door for the final time, I noticed this on the door and peeled it off. It’s getting framed:
Then I got in my car and left Manhattan…..
I’m going to take a moment here and post a rare personal piece on this blog. I don’t do it very often, so bear with me, ok?
Four years ago today my mother, Joanne Grant Rabinowitz died suddenly of heart failure. The family was not expecting this and to say it turned things on their heads would be an understatement, as anyone who’s experienced a similar situation can understand. Mom and I had what might be called a rocky relationship and as is often the case, it is only in death that our relationship “improved,” as I find myself forgetting and letting go of the bad memories and feelings and missing the good, regretting not having the chance to improve our relationship.
At her memorial service a few months after she died, countless family friends payed their respect in addition to people I didn’t know, all telling me how wonderful my mother was. The thing is, they didn’t live with her, so it was like there were two people being remembered: Joanne Grant (her maiden/professional name) award-winning filmmaker, journalist, author and civil rights figure and Joanne Rabinowitz, my mother who drank too much and with whom I fought on a daily if not hourly basis for as far back as I can remember.
She was an amazing woman by many measures and it is only now, removed from our relationship as mother and son that I can begin to really appreciate her and mourn her loss and mine. All the rancor and anger fades with time, leaving the good memories and the sadness that comes with unfinished projects, again hers and mine. We never got to repair our relationship and I never got to read her memoirs or see the films and books she was working on.
I do have her existing books to read, film to watch, friends to talk to and memories to recall. In the end that’s all I can ask for, I guess.